Region 4 News Release: USDOL: 02-31
Thurs., Feb. 28, 2002
Media Contact: Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (404) 562-2076
Contact: Clyde Payne
Phone: (601) 965-4606
OSHA Proposes $143,150 In Penalties; Cites Worker's Death
At Fernwood, Miss., Saw Mill
FERNWOOD, Miss., -- Failing to shut off power to a conveyor assembly, which contributed to the death of a worker, is one of 43 serious safety and health citations issued today to the W.L. Byrd Lumber Company, Inc. of Fernwood, Miss., by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Proposed penalties for the alleged violations total $143,150.
The fatal accident occurred Aug. 28, at the company's saw mill operation where logs are dropped into a conveyor assembly, cut into slabs and pushed to the next operation. A steel weight was placed on a foot-control stopping the operation, but not the electrical and pneumatic power that operated the machinery.
The worker, who was also a co-owner of the company, stepped under the slab pusher, now in an elevated position, and into a five-foot-deep pit beneath the conveyor assembly to repair a piece of the equipment. As he worked, the slab pusher pneumatically cycled downward and crushed him.
"This tragic accident could have been avoided if company officials had followed OSHA regulations," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director.
"Most fatal accidents in general industry, across the Southeast, occur when workers are struck or crushed by machinery. We encourage employers to learn how to lockout and tagout -make machinery inoperable before maintenance or repair work begins. These deaths are preventable," Payne said.
$128,800 of the proposed penalties related to 37 alleged safety hazards including failing to render a machine inoperable before repair work began; operating defective equipment throughout the plant; failing to properly guard machinery; and failing to provide employees with proper training in energy control procedures and first aid.
OSHA also cited six alleged health hazards with penalties totaling $14,350, including lack of hearing conversation and hazard communication programs.
The company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Jackson area office, located at 3780 I-55 North, Suite 210, phone: (601) 965-4606.